This year so far I have participated in 3 out of 4 of the Michigan Half Marathon Series races – The Chip River Run, The LittleFoot Run, and last night’s Panda Bear Night Run. (Click the links to see my other race recaps!) Last night’s 5k wasn’t my best by any means, but it was unique.
I had originally planned on doing the 10k, but after some consideration I decided against it. I haven’t really trained in over two weeks, and my friend Michelle that ran with me was only planning to do the 5k. Since she’s a whole lot faster than I am, I didn’t want to leave her alone in the dark waiting for me to finish a 10k. Especially since I probably wouldn’t finish until 10:30pm or later, going at my pace!
Michelle and I both noticed on the way to the race how weird it was to run a race at night. Normally races start in the morning, and if you’re like me you barely have enough time to get something to eat that will both sustain you but also not make you feel like crud while you’re running. Since this race was later in the evening, I was really paranoid about planning and timing my meals. I ate like a bird most of the day, just having a little bit here and there, careful not to eat a lot of dairy or fibrous foods for fear of some funky GI issues cropping up during the race.
The Panda Bear Night Run is an out and back, super flat, super fast course in Alma, MI on the Rail Trail. When we arrived, we were surprised at the amount of people running the race. This race series has definitely gained some popularity, but we came to realize that the Panda Bear Night Run is one of the more popular races in the series. What I love about the series is that the more you participate in these races, the more you feel like you’re part of a community, even a family. The race director Ryan Hackett is extremely friendly, outgoing, and motivating. His family and friends help out at the races, including his mom baking hundreds of her famous Monster Cookies which are awesome post-race treats. But alas… I digress… back to the race recap…
We got ourselves ready to go at the start, staying towards the back because I’m pretty darn slow. Michelle usually starts races with me, then hurries on ahead when the crowd clears out. We both acknowledged that we had NO idea how this was going to turn out, because we both had been slacking in our training. I thought well… I know I can run the whole thing, but I don’t know how fast I will run it. Who knows, I could even PR! And part of me was hopeful for a good time because the last 5k that I did in June would have been a PR for me if it had been a full 5k distance (it was short by about 1/8th of a mile, darn!).
Running the race I felt like I was going fast. I mean… not fast… but fast for me. Like I was pushing it. When my Endomondo GPS tracker announced that I was running at a 12+ pace I was a bit discouraged but tried to push harder. My second mile was even slower. I thought really? How could that be??? So I tried pushing myself even more. My last mile was even slower than the first two, and I rounded out the race with an official time of 41:49, a 13:29 pace. So… it was literally my slowest 5k ever. But I ran the whole thing without stopping to walk. And I finished strong.
Michelle and I celebrated with Monster Cookies and then went to claim a free beer from the Alma Brewing Co. I must say, I think my new favorite post-race refreshment is a nice, ice cold glass of Raspberry Wheat beer… mmm. We stayed out late talking and didn’t get home until 1am. This morning when I woke up my whole body was sore, from my shoulders, to my chest, to my core, to my quads and my feet. So even though I didn’t PR… even though I was slower than a turtle in mud… I still worked my body hard. And that is something to be proud of!